Winner: Innovation in Hard Rock Mining – the Navin Singh Award Hydro Power Equipment (HPE) for the development of the Isidingo Drill and Drill Guide.
Winner: Innovation in Soft Rock Mining - Rham Equipment for the development of Battery Electric driven LHD, Dump Truck and Land Cruiser
Winner: Innovation for Improved Productivity (with special mention for Data Integration) Hydropower Systems for the development of the HV212 EOD Hydrovessel
Winner: Innovation in Mineral Processing Azmet Technology & Projects for the development of the AZMET Cyanide Removal Process (AZ-CRP®)
Winner: Innovation for Safer, Healthier Mining Mine Support Products for the development of the Rocnet Modular Safety Net
Winner: Innovation by an Emerging or Small-Enterprise: Gravitas Minerals

Supported by South African Mining Extraction Research, Development & Innovation (SAMERDI), the MEMSA Innovation Awards 2022 recognise innovative technologies brought to the market over the past three years.

The judging was conducted by innovation partners and mining industry experts. University of Witwatersrand, Innovation Strategy Director, Professor Barry Dwolatsky and the Mandela Mining Precinct, Real-Time Information Management Systems Programme (RTIMS) manager Jean-Jacques Verhaeghe both served as judges and assisted in developing the awards entry form. Additional judges were Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (SAIMM) former President Alastair Macfarlane, Minerals Council of South Africa and Mandela Mining Precinct Strategic Advisor, Dick Kruger, and Martin Pretorius, Programme Manager for the Mechanised Mining Systems Programme at the Mandela Mining Precinct.

The focus on local content and local manufacturing speaks to why MEMSA believes the growth of South Africa’s manufacturing industry can be taken to the rest of the world.

“We understand that we need to be local, but we also need to be local in the places in which South Africa operates. South Africa’s ability to say we are willing and that we aim to pass on that talent and share it with the rest of the continent, all in the name of localisation, is also considered good,” Molloyi concluded.

Winners of this year’s awards are:

Innovation in Hard Rock Mining – the Navin Singh Award

Hydro Power Equipment (HPE) for the development of the Isidingo Drill and Drill Guide

The Isidingo Drill is an oil free, water hydraulic rockdrill, weighing just 16 kg, making it the lightest high-performance rotary percussive rockdrill in the world.

The Isidingo Drill allows the operator to be positioned well away from the face thereby significantly improving safety, while the Drill Guide ensures accurate drill spacing and direction, higher rates of penetration and lower water and power consumption per ton. The lightweight drill paves the way for female RDOs, and shorter drilling cycles translate into less face time and risk exposure. Lower vibration and noise exposure materially contribute to better safety and hygiene conditions.

These improvements all contribute to higher probabilities of “a blast a day”, which materially impacts mine productivity, reliabilities and ultimately job security and LOM of mining operations.

Isidingo Drill on thrustleg and Isidingo Drill on Drill Guide have both been evaluated in a formal production trial in a PGM mine for the past 9 months. All performance & production metrics were validated by two independent parties (eta ops & CSIR-MMP).

In conclusion the Isidingo Drill outperforms conventional air drills by 2 to 3 times and delivers 30% higher ROP than handheld drilling. Shift times are dramatically shorter and drilling accuracy delivers higher production rates, while water and energy consumption per ton of rock mined is dramatically reduced.


Innovation in Soft Rock Mining

Rham Equipment for the development of Battery Electric driven LHD, Dump Truck and Land Cruiser

Local OEM, Rham Equipment is driven to ensuring the South African mining industry regains its competitive advantage by addressing some of the industry’s changing needs. Rham underground LHDs and Dump Trucks are key examples of this innovation, with the flameproof, battery powered LHD a first of its kind manufactured locally for the coal sector.

The 200kW/h battery pack is equipped with Lithium-ion battery technology (LiFePO4) which displays multiple advantages including an efficiency range of 86-91%, little to no maintenance required within a 3000 cycle life, and low environmental risk due to no heavy and toxic material and which do not explode or ignite when ruptured.

The Flameproof LHD has rapid charging capabilities, meaning it is fully charged within 2-3 hours and will provide enough power to operate the LHD for between 5-6 hours.

The Rham underground LHDs and Dump Trucks, with their ergonomic cabin layout, user friendly dual joystick control interface, and comfortable suspension seat with adjustable arm rests ensure increased operator safety, comfort, and reduced fatigue, while zero DPM emissions, cooler running conditions and reduced noise provide a healthier work environment for the operator. Vehicles are fully compliant with the latest DMR requirements; Proximity Detection System (PDS) Level 9; Braking System (SANS 1589: 1994) and ROPS/FOPS certified canopies.


Innovation in Mineral Processing

Azmet Technology & Projects for the AZMET Cyanide Removal Process (AZ-CRP®)

Offering an alternative to cyanide destruction, the AZ-CRP® technology provides a simple and cost-effective solution for cyanide removal and/or recovery. AZMET’s patented Upflow Reactor for gold and other base metals recovery, combined with existing proven process routes, like acidification and copper precipitation, provides the benefit of secondary extraction of gold (Au) and other metals, thereby ensuring maximum yield within the client’s process operation.

The relatively low cost of partially recycled cyanide, versus the cost of new cyanide and mandatory cyanide destruction, as per the International Cyanide Management Institute (ICMI), means addition cost saving for the client.

There is currently no known global technology that can compete with the AZ-CRP® in relation to environmental impact and additional metal recovery as a total value-added technology. In the history of gold mining, such gold recovery rates could only be replicated in a laboratory and never on pilot scale or in full-scale production.

In conclusion the AZ-CRP® demonstrates the following special features; the additional recovery of precious metals in the leach tails due to the Patented Upflow Reactor, and the recovery of valuable copper by-products in the eluate. The removal of cyanide in final tails for partial reuse in the leach circuit, ensures cyanide tailings discharge will be within the limits as prescribed by ICMI and that leach tails require no additional cyanide destruction after the AZ-CRP®technology process.


Innovation for Improved Productivity (with special mention for Data Integration)

Hydropower Systems for the HV212 EOD Hydrovessel

The electrically powered HV212 EOD water piston pump is used to power a complete suite of mining equipment suitable for narrow reef stoping and underground mining activities, with the purpose of replacing the use of compressed air and increasing crew efficiencies at a lower operating cost.

Energy and water usage modulation optimised through the IP66 VSD controller, uses less than <4kWh/ton compared to conventional mining which uses 30kWh/ton, while water usage is further reduced by 27% with significant saving on electricity and water handling.


With the relation between energy and water used for mining with this system, and the ability to connect the VSD to the lOT, the following can be monitored live: service interruptions resulting in lost blasts can be identified to the location; volume predictions enable the mine to predict and proactively affect any changes; each mining activity can be identified and analysed separately; condition monitoring allows for preventative and predictive maintenance and the cost of ownership with allocated mining equipment can be measured to a cost benchmark. Additionally, equipping each mining crew with system add-ons include interface seismic sensors and environment sensors, which can be interlocked with the mining system. A new job title has also been created that requires the employment, training and deployment of maintenance personnel to work specifically on the HPS HV212EOD.


Innovation for Safer, Healthier Mining

Mine Support Products for the Rocnet Modular Safety Net

Fall of Ground (FOG) remains the largest threat to the lives of underground workers. In 2020 the Mineral Council of SA reported that 37% of fatalities in the mining sector were caused by FOG`s in SA mines. The Rocnet modular netting system aims to improve the safety of our miners in high-risk FOG areas.

The Rocnet modular system consists of 1.5mx 1.5m nets which are interlocked during underground installation. Rocnet modular netting system is constructed of galvanised steel cable with an added secondary corrosion protection layer which exceeds the minimum industry requirement of arresting a 450kg mass falling from 100mm with a maximum deflection of 400mm. The Rocnet clips used to connect the net sections have a higher breaking strength than the individual cable strand used in the construction of the net.

The Rocnet modular safety net is installed between permanent or temporary support as a real coverage to protect miners from falls of ground. The patented zero overlap modular construction of the Rocnet system results in a 20% reduction in cost when compared to standard netting which has a 300mm overlap. Rocnet can be suspended from permanent support elongates, roof bolts or temporary mechanical or hydraulic jacks.

Additional advantages over conventional netting includes the ease of transportation, installation, and tensioning, owing to the modular system. Limited waste with no overlap means that damaged sections can easily be replaced. The entire system falls under one vendor, resulting in ease of ordering, logistics and stockholding.


Innovation by an Emerging or Small Enterprise

Gravitas Minerals for the Optima Classifier™

The Optima Classifier™ technology allows mining companies to maximise their mineral resources while reducing their environmental liability.

In coal processing the Optima Classifier™ allows for the recovery of fine coal which would otherwise end up in a slimes dam, while in Iron Ore the Optima recovers iron ore fines and produces a saleable export product, allowing the industry to increase revenue per ton mined in a volatile market. In Chrome processing the Optima is used to process low-grade chrome ores to produce a saleable product. It is also used in a niche foundry market, where chrome is concentrated to a premium product attracting a 3x revenue multiplier.

The Optima Classifier™ is a proprietary hindered settling separator, accepted by the US patent office as a novel technology. The unit can be controlled via a plant PLC system or a remote Optima Classifier™ control system which uses density sensors and an electrically controlled underflow valve to ensure a seamless underflow discharge.

The nature of the Optima’s separation principles allows it to be used in multiple commodities, amongst others are Coal, Iron Ore, Manganese and Chrome.

Additional advantages include a throughput advantage of up to 25-30 t/hr/m2, improved recoveries through both size and density separation, and by being up to 30% lighter than its nearest competitor, a reduction in both cost and carbon footprint.

In 2019, out of the 362 Million tons produced in the Iron, Chrome, Manganese and Coal (ICCM) industries, 10% was sent to the slurry ponds. With recovery rates ranging from 15 - 30%, roughly 6.63 million tons are recoverable which translates to a revenue opportunity of ZAR 5,639 billion to the ICCM industry.

Through the competition process and recent engagements with members around safety and energy projects, it is clear that exciting innovations are happening across the cluster’s membership. This includes the development of different battery electric mining vehicles by members including Rham Equipment, Fermel (personel carrier) and Battery Electric (diesel locomotive conversion); innovations in explosive casings (NXCO); the development of trackless mining machinery suitable for mechanised mining methods, with sophisticated safety mechanisms; innovative hydro powered equipment; and data sensing devices and systems for better safety and productivity. 

Memsa looks forward to bringing more innovations to light in its upcoming 2023 Awards.